Every day the scientists looked in on their cage of mice. Each time one or more dead animals had to be removed from the cage. After about sixty days, more and more mice were dropping dead. One of the scientists looked worried.
“I don’t know how much more of this experiment they can take. We may end up killing all of them in the next few weeks if we don’t stop.”
The other scientist nodded his head. “It seems cruel, I know,” he said, “but I think we’re discovering something important here. This diet we’ve got them on should tell us a lot more about proper nutrition—or rather, what poor nutrition can do to an animal.”
The second scientist sighed. “You’re right. Here’s their meal for today.”
“The same as yesterday?”
“Yes, and the same as the day before and the day before that. You know that’s the only food we’re feeding them for ninety days.”
The younger scientist took the food and tore it into pieces and dropped it among the mice. They moved sluggishly toward it and sniffed it. Some were huddling in a corner, sick and barely able to move.
He finished feeding the mice their experimental diet. He brushed the crumbs from his hands. “Guess I better get another loaf of bread to feed them again tomorrow. Same brand?”
“Doesn’t matter,” said the older scientist, “Just so it’s white.”
After a ninety-day diet of white bread, 40 of the 64 mice were dead. The survivors had developed many of the diseases of “modern” man—heart problems, anemia, and extreme nervous disorders.
White bread, breakfast cereals, flours—all refined grain products contribute-greatly to this nation’s ill-health. Yet studies indicate they make up one-third of the average person’s total carbohydrate intake each day.
1.1 What Are Refined Grains?
A refined grain, or its product, is made by processing a natural whole grain so that some of its nutrients are lost. Flours, breads, cereals, noodles, pastries—almost all grain products have been refined in some way or another.
White rice, corn grits, wheat flour, hominy, a piece of toast, a cookie, the bowl of snap-crackle-and pop each morning—all are examples of refined grain products. ALL are harmful additions to the diet.
1.2 Why Are Refined Grains Harmful?
Refined grains and their food products are substandard foods for several reasons:
- They’re excessively starchy—in fact, they’re the most starchy foods eaten by humans. All starches, even unprocessed and unrefined ones, are handled with difficulty by our digestive system. When refined, their starchy nature is emphasized.
- They’re almost always eaten in a poor food combination—such as sandwiches, or sweetened pastries, or bowls of cereals. Invariably, they’re mixed or cooked with other starchy foods or heavy proteins, or fried in fats.
- They are acidic in nature, due to their mineral content, and consequently, they acidify the body and predispose it to excessive mucus formation.
- They are practically devoid of natural fiber and low in moisture, hence constipating.
- They must be cooked, altered, and otherwise processed before being eaten.
And perhaps most important of all, refined grain products are nutritionally imbalanced. It is because of this imbalance that these foods are responsible for several degenerative diseases. Calcium-leaching from the bones and teeth occur because of the altered phosphorous-calcium balance in these products. Sugar and refined grain products are primarily responsible for all tooth decay in this country, as well as the major cause of brittle bones in the elderly.
In natural organic foods that are eaten in their whole and unprocessed state, all the elements for proper nutrition are in their proper balance. This balance is completely destroyed in the refining process of grains.
For example, the mineral cadmium always exists along with the mineral zinc in foods. The zinc acts as a balancing mineral for the cadmium and prevents it from being absorbed in too large amounts by the body. Cadmium, in excessive amounts, is hazardous to human health (it is one of the poisonous elements in cigarette smoke, for instance). When grains are refined, the zinc mineral is destroyed but the cadmium is not; so, you get a massive absorption of cadmium without the balancing effect of the zinc when you eat refined grains.
As another example, both iron and copper minerals are destroyed when grains are refined. Copper is necessary for the utilization of iron by the body to build a healthy bloodstream. Inorganic iron (useless to the body anyway) is added back to the stripped flour, but of course the copper is not. You can’t fool around with the natural balance of nutrients in foods, and then hope to restore them or negate the harmful effects created by this processing.
The B-vitamins, vital for the health of the nerves and body, are quickly destroyed by any refining of the grain. Interestingly enough, the body requires B-vitamins to metabolize or use these grain products (which is why they are present in the food in the first place). If these vitamins are removed from the grain products, then the body must rob from the current supply of B vitamins in the body so that these refined grains can be digested.
Not only are refined grains and their products nutritionally deficient and imbalanced, they can also contribute to a loss of vitamins and minerals already present in the body.
Two of the most popular ways of eating refined grains are in the form of bread and cereals. We’ll look at these two products in great detail so that we can understand why refined grains have no place in a healthy diet.
1.3 Food Processing and Grain Products
Food processing is used to describe everything from home cooking to sophisticated food-manufacturing processes. Actually, anything we do to alter the original state of food, be it cooking, blending, refining, or adding a hundred chemical ingredients, is a form of food processing.
When we talk about food processing and grains, however, we are mostly concerned with food refining. Refining is the breaking down of a whole food into various parts. Grains, for example, are often eaten in the form of flour products such as breads, pastries, etc. Few people in America eat grains in their whole forms as they are harvested. Whenever foods are eaten in fragmented, refined, or processed form, a lower level of health invariably results.
Food is man’s most immediate point of contact with nature. As such, it must be suited to the laws that govern our body. While the human body is a remarkably flexible instrument, it cannot adapt to foods that have been radically altered from their natural form. Grains, as we shall see, are probably not an optimum food for man anyway; when they are processed, refined, and altered, they can become injurious.
When beginning the study of a subject such as this, it is useful to get a historical perspective. Fortunately, one area of food processing has been well documented for several thousand years: bread making. Bread is probably the first refined and processed food product eaten by man. We can understand the effects of refined grains on the body if we study the history of bread-eating from ancient times to the present.
1.4 The Early History of Grains
As long as primitive man could live in areas where fresh food was available for 12 months of the year, he had little need for agriculture. Fruits and vegetables, the mainstay of early man’s diet, were well supplied in a semi-tropical environment. Foraging and food gathering were the main methods used to acquire food.
With the changing of the climate and the migration of primitive tribes, new food gathering methods had to be devised. Man needed to find some way to store nutrients for periods of time when no fresh foods were available. Seeds, such as cereal grains, seemed to be one way of solving the food storage problem, and so man became agricultural in lifestyle.
Grains were probably among the first cultivated crops. They were not as tasty or beneficial as the fresh fruits and vegetables, but they could be grown in large amounts for storage in climates where the winters were harsh.
This development occurred only about ten thousand years ago—a very short length in the half-million year or so span of, man: With this growing of grains, cooking developed. If cooking had not started, it is doubtful the cereal crops would have been of much use to man. Cooking, the first food processing, developed simultaneously with grain agriculture.
Early grain processing seems to have consisted of either toasting the whole grain, or heating it up in watery mixtures, such as porridges or gruels.
By the time of recorded history, however, man had learned to process the grains farther and farther until he was finally able to make bread from his crops.
1.5 The Loaf of Bread
Until about 3000 B.C., grains were pounded in mortars to make a rough meal from which the bread could be partially sifted. This meal was then mixed with water and heated to form a porridge.
The Egyptians developed a grinding process in which the grain was crushed between two rolling stones. This allowed the endosperm of the grain to be reduced to a fine flour so that it could be sifted finer and finer from the coarser bran. This produced a flour that was refined enough for baking or bread-making purposes. As you can see, bread is a relatively new food in the diet of man. The loaf of bread, “staff of life,” has only been around for the last five thousand years or so, or less than 1% of man’s existence.
The Greeks improved upon the grain-grinding process with rotary grindstones, and by 500 B.C., combined flour mills and bakeries were operating in Athens. Bread was being sold commercially, and already there were different types of bread one could buy (such as coarse barley bread for slaves, wheat for the upper classes, etc.)
It was the Romans, however, who gave us our first “white bread.”
1.6 The Fall of the Roman Empire
During Roman civilization, flour milling technology rapidly developed, and soon the Romans were making four or five commercial grades of flour. The finest flour, almost a creamy color and not quite as white as that of our white bread, was sold only to the upper classes. Interestingly enough, the wrestlers and athletes of that time were fed the coarser grade of flour “to keep their limbs strong.”
Of course the “finer” or more refined flour eaten by the Romans had far less nutritional value and was a more fractured and fragmented food than had been eaten by man until that time. The Romans associated their new white bread with goodness, purity, nobility, and birth. These emotional feelings of refinement, higher living, snob appeal, etc. soon became inseparable from the texture, taste, and appearance of the white bread. As in modern times, the rich or upper class were the first to adopt the highly refined foods as a mark of “class distinction.” The health of the Roman upper class degenerated through the years—some blame it on the lead content in their cooking vessels, and others point out their fondness for the new white bread. Whatever the reason, as the health of its leaders failed, the empire itself crumbled.
After the Romans, it was 1500 more years before the “art” of flour refining reached this height again.
So, what can we learn from this bit of history? Have we proven anything, other than that man became increasingly “sophisticated” in this bread-making abilities? Fortunately, we can trace the health of man as he began eating more and more refined products.
1.7 Refined Grains and Dental Cavities
By studying the skulls and tooth remains of ancient, man, from 3000 B.C. all the way to the twentieth century, researchers have been able to devise a table showing the amount of tooth decay experienced by man during various time periods. Let’s look at the figures:
Dental Cavities From Ancient Times To The Present
|Time Period||Percent of Teeth With Cavities|
|100 A.D. (Roman)||11%|
It is no coincidence that the Romans had more cavities than any other ancient people; they also ate more highly refined flour products. After the “art” of flour refining was lost with the fall of the Roman Empire, notice that dental cavities decreased by half, or almost back to their level before refined flour products were introduced. Then, less than a thousand years later, the cavities’ percentage of modern man has increased five times over most ancient peoples. Needless to say, there has been an enormous increase in the amount of increasingly refined flour products in the last few hundred years. Do you think there is a connection? Many people do.
As poor as refined flour and bread products have been throughout history, they were still able to support life, if not enhance it. With the nineteenth century, however, the quality of bread became so poor that it was anti-life, or destructive.
In 1826, an experiment was conducted with the newly developed white bread of industrial England. The researchers discovered that “a dog fed on fine white bread does not live past the 50th day. A dog fed on the coarse whole bread lives and keeps his health.”
1.8 Bread Not Fit To Eat
In the nineteenth century, mass production of bread began in earnest. In fact, the first assembly line in the world was devoted to making bread sea biscuits for English crews. This mass production of bread required that the product have good storage qualities.
This extended storage time for bread is the most often cited reason for the amount of refining done to the flour. The nineteenth century miller and baker discovered that the germ of the wheat contains oils and these oils go rancid over a period of time. The germ and the aleurone layers of the grain also contain the major food value of the grain, and these attract rodents and bugs. Remove the nutrients, refine the flour even more, and the rats and insects will leave it alone. They know what many humans still don’t know: that such refined flour products cannot support life and are worse than worthless to eat.
This removal of the wheat germ and other nutritive factors from the bread as a convenience to the baker and not the customer marked the beginning of an era in food production. As bread-making progressed in the 1800s and 1900s, any changes made in the process were always done for the benefit of the producer. The consumer just, had to unconsciously adapt his taste to the type of bread that was best suited for mass production and rapid turnover. Bread was the first “technological” food; it was industrial food for the masses, cheap in cost and devoid of nutrition: the first junk food.
1.9 A Loaf of Chemicals
Bad as the bread was in the 1800s and through the mid-1900; it became much worse after the end of World War II. The chemical warfare banned in the war in Europe was just transplanted to the bakeries of America as the bread-makers began to slowly poison their customers with all sorts of new additives, bleaches, and preservatives.
Even refined flour still has natural yellow pigments (such as carotene—a precursor of vitamin A). The millers discovered they could remove this color and make their flour even whiter by bleaching it. They started blowing chlorine gas into the flour after it was milled.
Chlorine gas, a deadly poison if inhaled, not only bleaches the flour but also reacts with other molecules in the flour. Many potentially toxic chlorinated lipid compounds are formed from this chlorine gas, such as dichlorostearic acid.
Chlorine also destroys major portions of Vitamin E as well as an important amino acid in the bread protein, methionine (which is classified as “essential” for human nutrition).
Other chemical oxidizers are added to bleach and “mature” the flour, such as nitrogen dioxide, bencoyl peroxide, potassium bromate, potassium iodate, and azocarbonamide. Are they dangerous? Well, Germany banned all such oxidizers back in 1958, 24 years ago!
For softness and that white-bread texture, mono- and diglycerides are added to the bread dough at the rate of about 1/4 pound per year per person consumption. The effect is to make the bread more “plastic” or squeezable—nobody knows the effects on those that eat such additives.
What has happened since World War II is that man, for 5000 years previously, mechanically altered the wheat molecule by pounding and grinding. Now he has been chemically manipulating and reorganizing the wheat molecules. These chemical alterations in our food must have serious and long-time effects on those that eat such foods.
Out of the 100 pounds or so of commercial bread eaten each year by the average person, he also eats besides the refined flour such things as 2 pounds of salt, 3 pounds of sugar, 2 pounds of skim milk powder, 2 pounds of yeast, 1 pound of “enzyme-activator,” 1/2 pound of sulfate, chloride and bromate chemicals, and 1/4 pound of other food additives. When all of these chemicals and nonfoods are eaten together, a multi-toxic effect occurs that has never been thoroughly studied by scientists.
1.10 Are Homemade Breads Any Better?
By now, most health-conscious people know that commercial breads (even ‘whole-wheat’ and organic ones) are health-destroying foods. So, these people often make their own bread. Does this make bread a “good” food?
Actually, no. Unless these people freshly grind their flour from organic, whole grains immediately before they make bread, they’re still going to be using a substandard, toxic, and probably rancid flour.
Even if they use freshly ground flour, they still must add such things as salt, a sweetener, maybe some yeast, possibly eggs, milk, etc., and the product has been transformed into a mishmash of indigestible food combinations. All bread is usually cooked as well, which also adds to its toxicity.
Some people who feel that they must have bread have managed to compromise by making an uncooked product using only sprouted grains. Used in moderation, this is a marginally acceptable food. Due to its starchy and indigestible nature, however, such foods are not needed nor recommended for an optimum diet. If bread is ever included in the diet, it should be eaten as a starchy food and combined with leafy and nonstarchy vegetables.
The best way to use grain foods is not in bread, crackers, pasta, or whatever, but in their raw sprouted state. However, grains are only eaten when such foods as fruits, vegetables, sprouts, nuts or seeds are in short supply or not available.
1.11 The First “Health” Food
In the late 1880s, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg ran a sanitarium for vegetarian Adventists. Searching for a healthy meat substitute for his patients, Dr. Kellogg invented “Corn Flakes” in 1895.
One of Kellogg’s patients, C.W. Post, was experimenting on himself to devise a “food cure.” He came up with “Grape-Nuts,” and the breakfast cereal industry was born.
Within five years, Post’s cereals were making over a million dollars a year, and Kellogg had taken over the town of Battle Creek, Michigan, with his cereal factories. Up in Niagara Falls, Nabisco’s Shredded Wheat had arrived on the scene, and the dietetic character of the nation was being slowly molded.
These three cereal companies were almost solely responsible for making refined cereals a major part of the American diet. The cereals were originally promoted for their supposed health benefits, and industrialized America was ready for its first convenience foods. Breakfast cereals had become the first commercial “health” food.
1.12 How Healthy Are They?
Television commercials tell us that if we eat one cup of this or that specially fortified cereal, we’ll get 100% of almost all our vitamin and mineral requirements. They don’t tell you that these vitamins and minerals are inorganic fillers and additives which have been laced through a sugar-coated product that is destructive to our health and well-being.
Nor do they tell that the reason they add those vitamins, etc. is because all the original nutrients in the grain have been heated, rolled, puffed, squeezed and sugared out of existence. The vitamins and minerals are added so the manufacturers can justify the prices they charge for a product that is Only slightly more nutritious than the box it comes in.
And the cereal manufacturers really blow their own horn about these miniscule amounts of nutrition by the advertising on the boxes and on television. If your chief source of nutritional information about breakfast cereals has been the charts and panels on the sides of cereal boxes, then the following facts may open your eyes to one of the biggest food frauds of the twentieth century.
1.13 It Used To Be A Grain Of Corn
What is a corn flake? How is it made?
First, the kernels of corn are soaked in lye. Lye is a caustic, corrosive substance that will burn skin off your body. It’s used in making rayon, soaps, and—breakfast cereals.
After the soaking, the kernels are blasted by live steam. Then a flavoring syrup full of mostly white sugar is poured over the soaked and steamed corn.
Next, the kernels are dried until they’re hard. Then they’re run through huge rollers that press down with 75 tons of pressure to flatten them out. Now they’re ready to be toasted, heated and flaked one more time. Then they get their last dosing of preservatives, additives and chemicals and are packaged up in a brightly colored box with a picture of an athlete, animal, or cartoon character on the front.
Originally you had a grain of corn, fairly rich in protein, phosphorus, Vitamin A, and the three major B vitamins. Now you’ve got a sugar-frosted flake that has no original vitamins, few minerals, and an altered protein that is harmful to the body. What’s more, you’re probably paying five to ten times as much for this processed, denatured food than you would if you had just bought the original whole grain.
1.14 Why Do People Eat Prepared Cereals?
The American public has been completely sold on the healthfulness of eating an early morning breakfast and on eating cold cereals as a convenient, nutritious breakfast food. Consider what Richard Carter, author of “The Unappetizing Truth About Dry Cereals,” says about cereal consumers.
“As they put this mixture into their mouths, many of the feeders actually glow with a sense of well-being. Decades of tradition and millions and millions of dollars in advertising have trained them to regard their ready-to-eat breakfast cereals as the last word in morning nourishment. Any suspicion that the stuff is nutritionally inferior to other breakfast foods, like fresh fruits, is bound to be dispelled by the sales literature printed on the brightly-colored boxes.”
So people eat breakfast cereals because: 1) they feel that they should eat something every day as soon as they get up, according to conventional nutrition; 2) cereals require a minimum of preparation and are easy to eat; 3) people believe that the cereals themselves furnish “minimum daily requirements” due to the added vitamins and minerals.
In response: 1) Most people would be better off if they did not eat first thing in the morning; this is the body’s time to clean house and it is not ready to digest food. Greater health could result if people would adopt a sensible “No-Breakfast” plan, and ate more nutritious foods later in the day. 2) Fruits are far superior to cereals as a nutritious breakfast food, and they are the ultimate convenience food—no milk, no bowls, no preparation or clean-up whatsoever. 3) Added nutrients to food (“fortified” foods) are riot utilized by the body like the naturally occurring organic elements. They in no way replace or serve the same functions as do vitamins, minerals, and co-existing nutrients in natural foods.
1.15 The Real Harm of Breakfast Cereals
For many people, breakfast is the same almost every day of the week. Most people eat breakfast out of habit. They rarely make a conscious decision as to what to eat first thing in the morning, and so if they eat cereals they do so almost every day.
The cereal habit is also hard to break not only because of mental habits, but because the high-sugar content of the cereals can create a physical, addictive habit as well. The most popular cereals are 25% to 50% refined white sugar, which makes them sweeter than chocolate candy. Granolas, or health food cereals, are hardly better; with their high honey and maple syrup content, they, too, may be 20% to 30% concentrated sugars.
Eating such heavily sweetened breakfast cereals first thing in the morning plays havoc with the blood-sugar levels, and creates the conditions for a life-long sugar addiction.
1.16 And It’s Indigestible Too…
Not only is breakfast cereal an abysmal food by itself, it’s usually eaten with such foods as milk and fresh fruits so that it becomes virtually indigestible.
Besides being a totally unsuitable food, pasteurized milk that is poured over cereal combines very poorly with any other food. Milk is a protein with a high fat content. Cereals are refined starches and sugars. Putting those types of foods together in the stomach is a sure invitation to acid indigestion.
Fresh fruits are generally acidic or sub-acidic in nature. Mixing them with starchy cereals creates a fermenting environment that negates any health benefits of the fruit to begin with. Better to just eat the fruit and forget the cereal.
If anything is to be eaten early in the day, it should be easily digested, high-fluid foods such as fresh fruits. Refined starches clog the body and their waste products create a feeling of heavy lassitude that lasts throughout the day.
1.17 Are Grains Good Food At All?
So far, we have discussed mostly refined grain products, such as flours, breads, and cereals. There is little disagreement among health-minded people that such refined grain products are harmful and should be completely eliminated from the diet. But what about whole grains? Are unrefined grains, like rice, corn, and wheat, eaten in their whole state beneficial and optimum foods?
If we strictly apply the test of an optimum food which is that it be palatable and nourishing in its raw state, then grains fail. Raw grains, except when they are in their young milky stage or sprouted, are virtually indigestible and high in phytic acid which tends to bind calcium, iron, and zinc and make them unavailable to your body.
Grains are also unbalanced in potassium and sodium. Grain-eaters often try to balance the sodium-deficiency of grains by adding salt which is an inorganic poison. In general, grains are deficient in the alkaline minerals, too rich in nitrogen and phosphoric acid, and tend to acidify the system.
The starches in grains are hard to digest (about ten times more difficult than potato starches) and are prone to fermentation.
Grains, according to Otto Carque author of Rational Diet, are incapable of building strong bones and teeth. Man cannot live exclusively on grains for any length of time and maintain the best of health. If grains are eaten, they must be accompanied by green leafy vegetables to supply needed alkaline elements.
Grains contain the largest amount of starches of all foods. Humans are not naturally starch-eaters. We only have one starch-digesting enzyme, and that is found in the saliva. Starches are difficult foods to digest, and we would do better to look to other foods, such as fruits, vegetables and nuts for our energy and carbohydrate needs. Starches are not a necessary part of the diet. There is not a particle of starch in the entire constitution of your body.
Grains are a relatively new food in the human dietary—hardly 10,000 years old—and refined grain products have really only been around for 200 years in their present form. Man prospered very well before the advent of grain foods, so they cannot be defended as an essential part of the diet.
In fairness, it must be noted that grains, because of their storage capabilities and other considerations, have formed a major part of the world’s diet for many different populations. Grains, in their whole form, are not being degraded as an unsuitable food for man—but they are not optimum foods. As long as fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds are available, grains can be eliminated from the diet forever.
With a reorientation of agriculture from the mono-grain crops to the more productive tree crops (fruits and nuts), the world’s population could be better nourished in a more ecological fashion.
1.18 Other Refined Grain Products
Although most grain consumed in America is in the form of breads or cereals, other products are used in large amounts. White rice is generally polished whole rice. This polishing strips away many of the B vitamins and some of the protein—about the same thing that happens to refined wheat. White rice is a nutritionally unbalanced food and should never be eaten.
Corn meal may also be degermed (refined) and then subsequently “enriched” just like the white flour from wheat grain. Eating such refined corn meal was one of the causes of pellagra in the South, or so it was speculated many years ago. Refined corn also causes a B vitamin depletion in the body, the same as refined wheat flour.
Pasta such as macaroni, spaghetti, noodles, etc. are usually made from semolina which is a refined white flour made from wheat. It, too, is like eating “white bread.”
Of course, all such pastries like cookies, cakes, pies, doughnuts, and other such desserts are made with both refined flour and refined sugar and are “double-trouble.”
For improved health, all such flour products, whether made from white flour or whole-wheat flour or whatever, should be eliminated from the diet. Once a grain is made into flour, rapid deterioration of the food starts, regardless of the amount of any additional refining or processing.